Anne is growing a garden. Sister Mary lifts up the natural world through articles and poetry. Sister Anna has committed to at least one meatless meal a week. Kathy opts for reusable produce bags instead of plastic. Colleen and her daughter are planting flowers to attract bees.
Little daily actions are not small. They build on each other, expand us and connect with everyone else’s little daily actions. They fuel and strengthen the larger actions and movements that create a just and equitable world.
In anticipation of Earth Day and the fifth anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si’, Mid-Atlantic justice coordinator Sister Suzanne Gallagher began to ask the question, “How have you and your practices changed since Pope Francis issued Laudato Si’ five years ago?” She asked it at the lunch table (when we were all still working in our offices, before the pandemic), and she asked it over several issues of the Mid-Atlantic’s weekly newsletter.
Laudato Si’ is uncomfortable. It compels us to address a depleted Earth and staggering poverty and inequality not as issues outside of ourselves, but as innate parts of ourselves, because we are all connected. It is humbling to know that the choice of coffee we make here affects whether or not a fellow human being living thousands of miles away makes a living wage to provide that coffee.
It is also empowering. In the same way that destructive and oblivious actions bring harm where we are and beyond our immediate circles, generous and informed practices can grow resiliency and well-being.
The responses to Sister Suzanne’s prompt began to come in. Sisters Edwardine, Valerie, Rose Mary and Jane regularly review the justice bulletin board where they live for news and actions in which to engage. Several sisters planted irises as part of their Earth Day prayer. Sister Suzanne T. switched out regular straws for stainless steel ones and plastic utensils for wooden ones when she travels.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected how we do things but has also highlighted our resiliency and persistence in connecting. As a communications specialist for the Sisters of Mercy in the Mid-Atlantic and a member of our Critical Concerns Committee, I am drawn to how we relate daily to the issues of our time and how we live the changes we want to see in the world. I helped Sister Suzanne create a virtual Earth Exposition, with every contribution an exhibit, to amplify and visibly connect the little daily actions of our extended Mercy family as we commemorate the publication of Laudato Si’.
We live in a political and social climate that intentionally seeks to divide us, and now, in addition, we live with a pandemic that is literally keeping most of us physically apart. The virtual expo serves as a reminder of all that we do every day in support of Earth and our global family—things that don’t make the headlines—and encourages each of us to continue because we’re in it together.
I buy local, organic and fair trade; I compost and use sustainable food wrap. Anne P. is an avid farmers market shopper. Sister Katie opts for wind power.
What are your little daily actions?